Sunday, July 13, 2008

Whither a Wondrous Love

I just got back from a blissful afternoon under the trees at Hale Farm and Village playing music for close to 5 hours with total strangers. I wasn't going to go as it had rained all morning but at around 12:30 the sun came out, I called a buddy of mine, and we met out in the old Western Reserve for a day of music.

While there he told me he'd heard about a shooting in Twinsburg. A police officer had been killed. I thought that was mighty strange. Nothing much ever happens here and if it does it's a big deal and yet somehow I missed it.

When I got home, I fixed myself a beautiful late supper of salmon with spinach salad with a glass of fume blanc wine. Then I opened the news. The officer, Josh Miktarian, 33 years old, was shot and killed right by the grocery store where I bought the food I'd eaten, a few hours after I left the store. He had pulled over a driver and his K-9 was in the car with him. Nearby residents heard yelling and then a shot rang out. And that was the end of Officer Miktarian, dad, husband, owner of a pizza joint, guitarist in a local rock band.

It's sad, certainly, and unnerving, and I'm pissed off, too. What the hell is going on in this world? The other day a guy in Cleveland was shot and killed while standing in his bedroom just as he was about to lay down and go to sleep. Well, the fella, a postal worker, is sleeping now for good.

Wondrous Love, performed in perfection the other night at The Kent Stage by the amazing Blue Highway, has kind of grabbed me over the last couple of days because it was a hymn from my childhood. It also is eerily appropriate now.

I had written earlier in a comment that when the guys got done with this, my jaw literally was hanging open, and it's true, it was. There was a lot of levity and a lot of fast-acting bluegrass up to that point, and usually at a bluegrass show the band will offer up a gospel tune or a quartet, and it's usually some standard off of one of their albums. This hymn tune, the title track of their gospel recording, Wondrous Love, was presented in layers, lead vocalist and bass player Wayne Taylor setting the stage with mando player and vocalist Shawn Lane. Tim Stafford came out next on the next verse, then the band's banjo player Jason Burleson, and finally Rob Ickes. (See the band's profiles here.) But it was so subtle you didn't really know what was happening, you just had this impact all of a sudden. And I've heard a lot of great singing over the years, but this was really exceptional singing. You could have heard a pin drop. I suspect a good many of the folks in the audience were holding their lower jaws. Hear the studio version here, or go back to yesterday's post and click on the link near the end when I mention about Sunday quiet time for a YouTube video.

The last time I heard this hymn, I was a little girl, probably not more than 10 years old. My mother used to take me to church with her in Dillonvale, Ohio, literally almost a one-stoplight town. We were Catholic, but somehow I never took this hymn for being like any of the others. And it's not, it comes from the shape-note tradition, and the words are anything but Anglo-Roman mass fare. But I always liked it, as a kid, because it was haunting and unusual. Now more than 30 years later I appreciate it much differently. But I had certainly forgotten all about it until Blue Highway performed it the other night. Suddenly I felt captured, exposed --oddly graced.

I leave you with this tune and hope that something of it resonates with you. I wish that we could believe in a wondrous love that would explain away the wasteful side of human nature, the power of shadow to take a life, ruin one's own life and so many others in the taking. My loss now is that innocence when I could turn to this song or so many others and just put my trust in it, in a higher love. Now, all I have is the hope that at some point humanity will right itself before self-destructing. How I miss the days of my innocent belief.


At July 14, 2008 12:15 PM, Blogger DrDon said...

Okay, here's my problem with the whole gun thing. The main argument for allowing basically anyone in this country to own guns is for protection, right? People say it is the equalizer against the criminals. Then how come crime doesn't seem to be decreasing? Why is it that violent criminals with guns still seem to be getting away with using them all the time? If we have such a well-armed citizenry, how come they're never around when you need them?

I think this is all bullshit. I own a gun and I target shoot but if guns were made illegal in this country I'd give it up without a fight. The fact is that other countries with strict gun laws have much lower homicide rates than we do. I read the story about the polic officer. The story didn't say but maybe he was killed with his own gun. He got one handcuff on the guy. Maybe the guy then struggled with the officer and got his gun. I'm not sure. What I do know is that criminals don't seem to be deterred but law-abiding citizens having guns.

If guns were illegal, there might be an initial problem with criminals still having them but over time I think this would decrease as more guns were confiscated. Maybe it wouldn't work but what we're doing now doesn't seem to be doing any good either.

At July 14, 2008 1:08 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Well, here's what pissed me off. The officer's gun was still in the holster when other officers arrived. And the Cuyahoga County Coroner verified Officer Miktarian was shot FOUR TIMES in the HEAD. What, THREE times didn't do it?

I'm even more pissed that Charleton Heston is already dead or I'd be cussing him out right now.

Whether it's Twinsburg or Cleveland or Detroit or Cleveland Heights or Los Angeles or Gary Indiana or Parma, it's all the same. Intent to harm can live anywhere, go anywhere, act anywhere and if it has a gun you can bet it will use it, too.

At July 15, 2008 8:30 AM, Blogger DrDon said...

Well, I just don't understand people who think that banning guns wouldn't decrease crime. As I always say, I've never heard of a drive-by knifing. There are whole classes of crimes that just wouldn't be committed without guns. The fact is that a gun can make any wimpy 12 year old feel like a tough guy.

I'm not a pollyanna and I know that hard core criminals would still be able to get guns, especially early on, if they were illegal. But I still think a ban would stop a lot of young kids and spur of the moment types from getting them. A lot of the gang violence people see is possible because people can get guns on street corners for $20. Yes, there will always be a weapons trade but it's not like Joe Average citizen with his gun is his house is out battling the Yakuza. If a lot of these punks with cheap guns didn't have them anymore, we wouldn't need to worry so much about home defense.

At July 15, 2008 10:08 AM, Blogger Shameless Agitator said...

Wonder how many police officers still support Ohio's concealed carry law?

At July 15, 2008 6:09 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

I absolutely agree with you both. This guy flies right in the face of concealed carry. He had a permit. What does this tell you?

And I hate to say it but there probably is a fair amount of complacency until something like this happens. No matter where it is, it's probably not a good idea to put a single cop on patrol at night. There are enough cops assigned night duty in Twinsburg that they could have paired Officer Miktarian with a colleague. It would have lowered the risk substantially.

Alongside guns I think there also has to be a better handle on substance use. No person in his or her right mind or even a little buzzed would likely shoot a cop in the first place let alone four times in the head. As my own boss said, there will be a string of things attached to this guy once it all comes out.

Thompson also had his girlfriend with him. But by the time the officer called for backup he was in trouble. Yet Thompson's lawyer is claiming self defense. Whatever.

I was very sorry to learn that a good friend of our family was first responder on the call. Everyone in that business probably knows it's possible that something like this will happen, but you don't really expect to have to deal with finding your buddy on the ground missing most of his head. That's the saddest part for me, personally. If we weren't spending another 650 billion on Iraq, maybe we could use some of that cash to help people be more self-sustaining and communities be stronger so that we wouldn't concurrently be fighting a war at home, too.


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